Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers
7:30 p.m. PST
January 14, 2015
ESPN/ FOX Prime Ticket
Video of the Day
Do you know what “grandeur” is?
1. True or false: The Blazers are a top-two team in the West.
Seth Partnow, (@SethPartnow): False. I don’t trust their defense. I don’t trust their depth. Most importantly, I think the really top teams will adopt a “make Aldridge beat us from midrange” strategy over playoff series and not allow the three-point bomb squad to be as effective as it is during the regular season. At this point, I’d say they are about on par with the Clippers as far as true contention goes: if everything went perfectly, it could happen but it’s unlikely.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): I’m lower on Portland than most, so I’ll actually say they’re the sixth-best team in the West, behind the Spurs, Thunder, Warriors, Grizzlies and Clippers. I still don’t trust their depth or their defense (at least not at a top-3 level), and think they can be exposed in the wrong matchup, like the Spurs did last postseason.
Roscoe Whalan, (@RoscoeWhalan7): False. Why does no one believe in Portland?! For me, it’s Golden State and then the Grizzlies, at least for now. However, if the Blazers can join the Western Conference Arms Race and improve their bench – like they’re rumored to be trying to do – then maybe they can solidify their place as a genuine contender.
2. Why is the Blazers’ defense so statistically improved this year?
Partnow: Having just finished running down their depth and defense, the slight upgrade in depth, especially with the addition of Chris Kaman has made their bench defense a little better. Through familiarity, they are executing well. But they still don’t force turnovers, and a lot of their effectiveness has stemmed from opponents simply missing a lot of three pointers. Which could hold up, but probably not to a sub 30% from long range clip.
Buha: Continuity and basketball IQ. The Blazers, much like the Hawks, are an incredibly smart team, and they adhere to head coach Terry Stotts’s scheme very well. They have some stout defenders (Wes Matthews, Nic Batum, Robin Lopez), and LaMarcus Aldridge holds his own for the most part. I’m still a bit skeptical of how long they can sustain this level, though.
Whalan: The Blazers don’t force turnovers but they force bad shots. The long and strong combination of Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews on the wings are running shooters off of the three point line and into tough shots. Maybe that’s great defense but maybe there’s also some unexplainable force at work that’s led opposing teams to shoot a shocking 28.7% from deep against them?
3. Is it more awkward to be coached by your dad or to coach your son?
Partnow: I can’t even deal with GM Doc related questions right now.
Buha: It’s more awkward to coach your son (at least at the professional level) — I’ll agree with Doc Rivers on that. There’s the on court nepotism dilemma, the family dynamic at home, and the pressure of having your son’s career in your hands. It’s stressful, at the very least, and absolutely horrible in the worst-case scenario.